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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Can Franklin Morales Save Red Sox Rotation?

BOSTON, MA - MAY 6: Franklin Morales #46 of th...
BOSTON, MA - MAY 6: Franklin Morales #46 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch in the twelth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park May 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
In a piece this morning by Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, the reporter says Bobby Valentine has acknowledged that Franklin Morales is being stretched out in case the Red Sox need him to start later this season. In his two middle relief appearances, he's been dominant, but can he save the Sox rotation?

As Cafardo points out and I've said on numerous occasions (just look at my twitter account), the Red Sox need more than just a quality fifth starter to make a run in the bunched up AL East. They need an ace at the top, which Jon Lester has not been this season. Morales has the stuff to baffle opposing lineups but can the southpaw maintain his delivery every fifth day?

The 26 year old was a highly touted prospect when he came up in 2007 with the Rockies as a starting pitcher with an electric fastball. In 8 starts he compiled a 3-2 record, 3.43 ERA, 1.22 WHIP with 26 K's in 39 1/3 IP.

The next season, 2008, at 22 years old told a different story. In 5 starts, Morales went 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA and 1.77 WHIP thanks to 17 BB in 25 1/3 IP, leading to a demotion to the Rockies Triple-A affiliate.

He made 21 more starts in the minors during the 2008 season, going 10-5 but with a 5.47 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and 82 BB in 110 1/3 IP. The command trouble was still there but the Rockies still had hopes that the 22 year old could develop into a premier pitcher.

The lefty started the '09 season in Colorado's rotation but was again optioned after struggling in the early going. He was recalled in July and finished out the season in the bullpen, where he's been ever since.

He's been a solid option out of the bullpen for the Red Sox since coming over via trade last season, putting up a 3.62 ERA in 36 games last season and a 3.48 mark in 21 this season as a setup reliever/everything else Bobby V wants to use him for.

The question is, can the Red Sox get out of him what the Rockies wanted, a quality starter? History suggests that Morales cannot maintain his command in the starting rotation, but he's looked good in a 4 1/3 and 3.0 inning appearances out of the bullpen. Is the 26 year old now ready to step into the lights and start games at Fenway Park?

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